Pointing Others to Jesus

standard February 27, 2018 1 response

Billy Graham said, “When Christ hung, and bled, and died on the cross, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’”

Last week the news of Billy Graham’s passing spread like wildfire across social media. He had lived to be 99 years old and the impact that this one man had on this world for the sake of the gospel is too great to quantify.

Numerous stories surfaced on how Billy Graham’s preaching had changed their life and led them to a relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the stories that sticks in my memory is how Louie Zamperini, the man who inspired the book Unbroken, was held as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. Years after his release he heard Billy Graham preach and he gave his life to Christ on the spot. That bold decision gave him the courage to face his oppressors and offer them a supernatural forgiveness.

How many other stories are out there because of Billy Graham’s persistence to preach the gospel? Don’t you know that it was a beautiful homecoming last Wednesday when Billy Graham finally heard these words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

This is such a good lesson for us to learn in our everyday lives. We may never be a world-renowned preacher, but we can do what we can, where we can to point others to Christ, reminding the world that God loves them.

 

God’s Love Language

standard February 21, 2018 1 response

Did you know that over one million people get engaged every year on Valentine’s Day? Isn’t that wild? That means that roughly 500,000 new Pinterest boards titled “My Wedding!” are being created right now.

But after all the months of planning are over and the last dance at the wedding is finally done, the happy couple will soon begin the delicate art of discovering each other’s love languages.

Based on Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, I’ve found that my personal love language is “words of affirmation.” It always warms my heart and makes me beam when my husband compliments me or when my daughter tells me that she likes something I’ve made for her. I thrive when I am praised for a job well done.

My husband on the other hand feels loved by “acts of service.” If I run a special errand for him, the man is happy as can be and looks at me with all the heart eyes.

Scripture tells us in no uncertain terms that God’s love language is OBEDIENCE. It’s what He desires from His children and it pleases His heart tremendously. The word “obey” occurs over 200 times in the Bible! We find it in the Old Testament passage found in Psalm 119:34 “Help me understand your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart” as well as the New Testament passage in 1 John 2:5, “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.”

However, obedience is not always easy. We must train our hearts and minds to want to obey God. We face countless amounts of temptation on a daily basis, but we need to realize that God is fully aware of each one of these struggles. Christ Himself was tempted, experiencing firsthand just how hard full obedience can be. Yet Christ valued His relationship with the Father, choosing obedience over comfort and because He did, we have the glorious gift of eternal life.

Relationship matters. If we are committed to knowing God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer, then our love for Him will grow deeper each day. But what’s amazing is that it’s not one-sided. God reciprocates our obedience with blessings! Deuteronomy 28 mentions several blessings that are accompanied by fully obeying the Lord, such as blessings in our work, our children, and our daily routines.

Just as a new bride desires to shower her husband with love, we must teach ourselves to obey God’s instructions in order to show Him love. The beautiful result is a relationship that lasts!

Father, thank You for the opportunity to show You love by obeying your commands. My desire is to please Your heart. Teach me how to walk in obedience daily.

Top 5 Reasons to Love “The Greatest Showman”

standard January 31, 2018 Leave a response

Have you had a chance to see The Greatest Showman yet? If not, drop what you’re doing and get thyself to the nearest theatre, thus sayeth the Lord. For time’s sake I won’t summarize the whole movie (that would be a full post in itself), but rather I’d like to pull out some of the themes of the movie that I believe can apply to our everyday lives.

Presenting the Top 5 Reasons to Love The Greatest Showman:

  1. Don’t be afraid to dream impossible dreams. T. Barnum has a dream in his heart to start a magical show like none other, but he gets sidetracked by life. When he loses his corporate job, he takes a chance on his dream. At first no one comes to the circus, but with ingenuity and hard work, Barnum finally makes his dream a reality and the circus becomes a huge success. God has put a dream in your heart too! It may seem impossible and you don’t have a clue how it will ever be realized; you may have been sidetracked by life and feeling like that dream was just that…a pipe dream. But Jesus says, “All things are possible for one who believes,” (Mark 9:23). Put your faith in the One who can make your dreams come true and be willing to work hard to achieve them. For with great risk comes great reward!

 

  1. Come alive to experience all that life has in store for you. Barnum first fills his museum with wax statues and stuffed animals until his little girls suggest that he needs things that are alive, not dead, to attract the people. So, Barnum searches for “unusual persons,” enticing them to come alive and start dreamin’ with their eyes wide open. At first they are reticent because for years they have hidden themselves from the public, but Barnum’s joy is contagious and they truly do come alive. The same can be true of you and me. If we feel as if we’re sleepwalking through this life, we start to feel spiritually dead. But God’s plan is that we live a FULL life, filled with abundant joy. Jesus also said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, a better life than they ever dreamed of,” (John 10:10). Come one, come all. You hear the call; for anyone who is searching for a way to break free. Come Alive!

 

  1. Even if the world rejects you, know that you are glorious. As the acts of the show do come alive they start to speak out against how they have always been treated. They’ve been told to hide away; run away; no one’ll love you as you are. But they have had enough! And they declare that they are brave, they are bruised, this is who they are meant to be. In this lifetime we will be cut by the sharpest of words of others. They will threaten to break us down to dust, but we must listen to the voice of the One who speaks life into us. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love and have continued my faithfulness to you,” (Jeremiah 31:3). Believe that and sing with passion like the bearded woman: I know that I deserve your love. There’s nothing I’m not worthy of. This is me!

 

  1. It is possible to rewrite the stars, but the change starts with us. Within the story a handsome, white aristocrat named Phillip begins to fall for a beautiful, black trapeze artist. Of course, their love is forbidden due to their racial differences and Phillip is met with severe opposition from his parents. Phillip protests, “Father, the world is changing.” Fast forward to 2018 and we need to ask ourselves: has the world really changed that much in the last 180 years? If so, why are we still harboring prejudices against people who have a different skin color than we do? This is not how Jesus wants us to live. “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” (Acts 17:26). It’s time to rewrite the stars and love others with different skin color than us as we love ourselves. What if we rewrite the stars? Is it impossible? Say that it’s possible!

 

  1. When you lose your way, remember your first love and come back home. When all the fortune and fame of P.T. Barnum’s success sets in, he begins to lose his way. He doesn’t do anything immoral per se, but he neglects his family to spend time with a very talented and beautiful woman and he also treats the acts of his circus with disrespect. Through a series of unfortunate events he loses everything and he eventually realizes what truly matters is his family and friends, and he resolves to not be blinded by the lights of fame any longer. Sometimes this happens to us in our everyday lives as well. We aren’t necessarily doing anything harmful to others, but before we know it our selfish desires have crept in and we are no longer walking in the light. But then, we remember our first love and we resolve to return to Him and He welcomes us with open arms. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7). From now on…Stop and remember your first love. Come back home.

 

In the end, The Greatest Showman is a beautiful story of inclusion and acceptance of all people, something that Jesus Christ Himself taught. And if it’s crazy, then live a little crazy, because as P.T. Barnum said, “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

Be. The. LIGHT!

Perfect Timing

standard January 24, 2018 Leave a response

Matthew 2:14

Do you ever stop to think about the concept of perfect timing?

Sometimes we’re delayed for an unknown reason and later we discover that there was an accident where we were traveling. Or maybe we’re supposed to be at an event, but due to illness we had miss it and it ends up being a good thing for the sake of our reputation that we weren’t there.

I always think it’s so interesting how God works things out for us in His perfect timing.

In Matthew 2 we are told that after the wise men left their gifts with Jesus an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him to get up and take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s plan to kill the Messiah. It says that Joseph did the following:

Got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.

 What struck me about this passage was not only the perfect timing of the angel’s message, but also Joseph’s immediate obedience to follow the angel’s instructions. He didn’t wait until morning to wake the newborn baby and exhausted mother. No, he left during the night!

Joseph’s example is a good reminder for us in our everyday lives. If God says to get up and go, we should obey right then because we never know what He may be trying to spare us from. His timing is always perfect.

 

Gentleness Matters

standard January 17, 2018 2 responses

Philippians 4:5

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something was off at our home.

The kids were constantly bickering with each other. My husband and I were short with our words. No one was being outright rude, but no one was being gentle either. And my spirit had had enough!

I realized that a change first needed to start in my heart, so I prayed that the Lord would help me change this spirit of dissension in my home. He led me to the book of Philippians where it seems that there were two women in the church that were not getting along so well.

Paul gave these words of advice to them when he said:

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

I let that sink in for a minute. Had I been gentle with my husband and with my children? No, I had not, so how could I expect them to be gentle with each other??

First I had to change the tone in which I spoke to them and then ask that they do the same. And guess what? As I changed the way that I approached them, I started to see a positive change in them as well.

But my ultimate motivation for treating my family with gentleness is because I believe that the Lord is near and I certainly don’t want to disappoint Him. I can’t be short with my kids or husband and expect the Lord to be gentle with me.

If I truly want the Lord’s favor and blessing to fall on me, then I have to be willing to extend the same to others…

in the grocery store checkout line

in the committee meeting with the abrasive member

in my home as we rush out the door each morning

in my everyday life.

Gentleness matters. If by chance you find yourself in my shoes, remember Paul’s words and let your gentleness be evident to those you interact with because the Lord is near!

 

Push The Reset Button

standard January 10, 2018 Leave a response

It’s only the second week of January and it’s already hard to keep those New Year’s Reflections going. Right? I decided to take a much-needed break from sugar and by day four, I was showing all the symptoms of being “hangry.”

The ushering in a of new year means that we have a chance to push the “RESET” button on our lives and start living the way that we know that we should:

A little less cake, and a lot more salad.

A little less TV watching, and a lot more walking.

A little less sleeping in, and a lot more trips to the coffee pot.

But the new year also brings a chance for us to focus our hearts and minds on the Lord. God says in Ezekiel 36:26,

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.

 I love that!

He gives us a new heart; one that desires to bless the Lord and bless others. And He gives us a new spirit, so that we can have the power and strength to live our lives to the fullest.

So, what is it that you desire to accomplish this year, Friend? Take a moment to push that RESET button and ask that the Lord would put His heart and spirit in you.

Let’s resolve to make 2018 the best year yet as we strive to live with a little less self, and a lot more of Jesus!

Not Finished Yet

standard January 3, 2018 Leave a response

Can you believe that another year has passed us by? Wow! That went quickly!

I do love a shiny new year, with all it’s potential and possibilities. I like seeing the months laid out and the calendar start to fill up with coffee dates, kids’ activities, conferences, and even project deadlines.

I feel such expectant hope at all that God is going to do in 2018 and I can’t wait to get started.

However, I still need to be mindful of the good work that God has already begun in me.

Philippians 1:6 says,
     “We can be confident that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

That simply means that God will be faithful to keep on developing us to our fullest potential in this coming year as well as the ones that follow, if we let Him. Even if we didn’t realize all our goals in 2017, we can rest assured that there is grace for 2018 and move forward with confidence knowing that God will keep working in us.

We’ve got to do our part to keep on shining in this new year. And as we reflect the light of Christ then others will see the good work that is in us and they will give glory to the very one who started it in us – God the Father. Isn’t that beautiful?

This year let’s resolve to be lights that shine brightly and then let’s keep on pointing others to one who started it all: our faithful God.

Bringing Him Our Treasure

standard December 20, 2017 Leave a response

 

No nativity is complete without the wise men coming by camel to bring their gifts to Jesus.  Am I right?

Matthew 2 tells us the wise men followed the eastern star and when they found the baby they worshipped him and opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Notice that they didn’t bring a whole convoy of objects. They brought a representation of their very best gifts. They chose to bring quality over quantity.  They presented Him with the things that they truly treasured.

What is it that you treasure? Take a moment to think about it. What would your gift be and how you can present it as an offering to your King today? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or perfectly wrapped. It just needs to be meaningful.

Maybe it’s taking the time to serve at the local soup kitchen and offering a kind word to those you meet. It could be as easy as slowing down enough to listen to someone who is struggling this season. Or it could be as difficult as giving up that treasured parking spot you’ve been waiting on at the mall (gasp!).

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season rob you of bringing your very best gifts. Resolve to choose quality over quantity. And remember, when you take the time to love others in His name, you bring something so valuable: a treasure fit for a King.

(The above painting is by Joellen Lee who uses her gift to bless others. )

Happiness in Giving

standard December 13, 2017 Leave a response

Each Christmas season our church group participates in blessing a lower-income school with gifts for each one of the children.

It takes much preparation and the generosity of many church members to pull this event off, but the outcome is pure joy! I love seeing the trailers fill up with the brightly wrapped boxes filled with warm clothes and toys for every child. But nothing compares to the children’s animated facial expressions as they unwrap a gift especially prepared for them.

Basketballs and sneakers, baby dolls and pjs. All unwrapped with squeals of delight.

Experiencing such fun made me think of this Scripture in Acts 20:

We must help the weak, remembering the word that the Lord Jesus himself said,

“There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”

One little girl had asked for 3 matchbox trucks in her box so that she would have something to give to her brothers on Christmas morning. The thought of her sweet request made me want to weep and smile simultaneously because she understood the meaning of this Scripture.

As you make your Christmas shopping list, consider including someone who would never expect to receive a gift from you and use it as an opportunity to share the ultimate gift this Christmas: the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And then see if giving doesn’t make YOU the happiest of all.

 

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

standard November 29, 2017 3 responses

One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”

Last fall I stood at the top of the Bethlehem Hills in Israel and experienced where these angels would have heralded the birth of our Savior to the shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. It was surreal to say the least.

However, in the near distance there is a beautiful mountain where Herod the Great had his servants chop off the top and resurrect a palace for himself there named Herodium. The audacity of Herod’s attempt to exalt himself above all others was glaring.

What struck me as ironic was that just a few miles away from Herod’s stately palace, there were angels proclaiming the arrival of the true king. One that was humble enough to be born in a manger and die on a cross for your sins and for mine.

Philippians 2 says this of Jesus’ act of humility:
For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Is that not the most glorious thing you have ever heard?

No one ever puts a picture of Herodium on their Christmas cards. That’s because the true king came and His name is above every other name. His name is Jesus. 

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem.